Congratulations to the 20% of people who make it to the gym on a regular basis. You’re exercising and improving your health and fitness. What’s the big difference between people who exercise and people who don’t?
People who exercise move their bodies. It’s the movement that creates the benefit. An hour-long group fitness class contains a lot of body movement. A weight training workout is a lot of movement with resistance added. The underlying principle to all exercise is movement.
You body wants to move. It is genetically programmed to move. It’s easy for us to walk, sit, push, pull, stand up and lie down. In our early history we had to hunt and gather, and it was all based on our movement.
As technology has impacted our lives, we’ve been able to live more and move less. We drive now. We have elevators and escalators. We can go through a day with very little movement. And here in lies the problem! We need to move more.
Incorporate daily movement into your life and you’ll improve your fitness and feel better about yourself. Daily movement is any body movement you do on purpose. For example, you usually take the elevator to the 3rd floor at work. You start taking the stairs up and down the 3 floors. It doesn’t seem like much but if you do this every day at work it adds up to a lot of movement over time.
It’s not just walking either. Gardening and yard projects tend to use the upper body. Mowing the yard uses upper body strength. Anything with shoveling or raking is going to use the arms, shoulders and torso.
Movement burns calories. It exercises the muscles, tendons and ligaments. It keeps range of motion in your joints. Not moving does just the opposite. When you don’t move your muscles atrophy and your joints tighten. Your cardiovascular system doesn’t get the work it needs to keep the heart and lungs strong.
The key is to identify areas of your life where you can add movement without inconveniencing yourself. If it’s an inconvenience you’re not as likely to make it a habit. If you park your car one more block away from your office and walk the extra block, that’s convenient. If you walk your dog an extra 10 minutes everyday that’s convenient.
The more you can move the more fit you become. If you’re sedentary now, daily movement can start you on a path that can lead to exercise. Exercise is movement but with more frequency, intensity and duration. Work your way up. If you start walking, eventually you can speed up your walking and get to power walking. You can start taking hikes in nature and gradually build up to more difficult hikes when you’re ready.
If you’re already exercising regularly, more daily movement contributes to your daily fitness. The more you move the better. Make movement a priority in your everyday routine. Find ways to move on purpose and improve the quality of your life.